07 Jan How to Optimise Blog Posts to Gain Featured Snippets
Let’s be clear, you can’t just create featured snippets. It’s all down to Google’s algorithm meaning, there’s no way to force the situation.
However, you can put the cogs in place so that your piece of content has a better chance at gaining a featured snippet.
The best place to begin is by analysing your webpage rankings in Google. You should target keywords that you’re already ranking on page one for. That’s because it’s only worth aiming for search results that trigger a featured snippet.
1. Complete research on target keywords
Using SEO Tools
The main kind of search query that triggers featured snippets are questions.
The image below was taken from MOZ, showcasing there are featured snippet opportunities indicated by the grey bar above the scissors icon.
The blue bar highlights the snippets you’re already showing for. The other icons represent other SERP features that are different from featured snippets.
MOZ shows you if a keyword you’re tracking has won a snippet position. In the example below, the circular scissors icon is grey as the opportunity is yet to be won.
If you’d already won the featured snippet, the icon would be highlighted blue.
If you do not have access to an SEO tool that provides this information for you then the good old manual process is required.
NOT Using SEO Tools
Simply enter your search term, preferably a long-tail question and a featured snippet result along with a ‘People also ask’ question box, should appear. This can be seen in the image below.
TIP: We recommend completing this process with say your top 10 long-tail keywords that you want to target for. If you don’t get any luck, repeat the process again with a new set of long-tail keywords.
IMPORTANT: Usually, the questions in the ‘People also ask’ box tends to be related to a featured snippet so don’t ignore them.
Then you can make a note of the keywords that have featured snippet opportunities and those that don’t.
Using Answer The Public
Another useful tool you can use is answerthepublic.com. On this tool, you enter your search query and you’re presented with a wheel of questions as shown in the image below.
By clicking on each question on the wheel you can see the search results in Google.
Then, back on the Answer The Public results page, there is also a ‘Related’ wheel. It allows you to see other questions that are related to your search term or keywords which is great for obtaining future content ideas.
Finally, if you’re not having any luck with your current set of target keywords, you may need to complete further keyword research. This can be done using tools like Google Ads’ Keyword Planner.
Using this tool, you can get a great idea of the search volumes each search term has helping you to decide whether it’s useful to try and target these terms, or not.
TIP: The higher the search volume, often the harder the competition to rank in the top positions for this keyword. That’s where on-page SEO, a highly relevant backlink profile, great blog content and active social channels come into play.
2. Content Creation for Featured Snippets
Once you’ve carried out your research, whether it’s using SEO tools, using the manual processes or our other suggested ways, the next step is to create your content and tailor it to the type of featured snippet you’re aiming for.
Below are some tips that we’ve picked up when researching paragraph featured snippets and list featured snippets:
Start your piece of content by clearly answering your targetted question. The highest number of characters we’ve seen for a paragraph featured snippet is 324 characters. That’s about 4 lines of text so try to answer the question in a short, simple block of text.
From research, bulleted lists and numbered list featured snippets display 4, 6, 7 and 8 listed items before a “more items” link is displayed. Hence, we recommend keeping your bullets straight-forward and to-the-point.
After the initial question is answered at the beginning of the article, you can then expand on the answer in the paragraphs that follow.
Make sure that your optimised content is accompanied by a relevant image, ensuring you include your targetted keyword/question in the image alt tag.
Image Alt Tags
Google’s definition of an “image alt tag” is as follows: ‘An alt tag, also known as “alt attribute” and “alt description,” is an HTML attribute applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for search engines.’
3. Format your content
Formatting your content in a way that Google can understand will help you gain that featured snippet. Using basic HTML tags will increase your chances including:
Header tags – Make sure your headings are correctly structured using the appropriate header tags format (<h2>, <h3>, <h4> etc).
Header tags are used to categorise text headings on a web page. They are the titles and subcategories of a web page and help indicate to readers and search engines what the page is about.
They use a cascading format where a page should have only one H1 (main title) but beneath can be multiple H2s (subtitles) and every H2 can have H3s beneath (sub-subtitles).
Paragraph tags – Most content management systems by default will add the paragraph tag to your copy. It is worth checking in the HTML view if this is the case. If it doesn’t then you will need to add the <p> tags yourself.
List items – As with paragraph tags most content management systems will automatically add the <ol> (ordered list), <ul> and <li> (unordered list) tags for you at the touch of a button. If not, you’ll need to manually add them in HTML view.
Example HTML Code:
Example of how your lists will look in a live article:
Tabled items – If you are targetting a featured snippet that contains a table, it is best to make sure the data that you are answering the question with is within <table> tags.
Example HTML Code:
Example of how your table will look in a live article:
As a general rule, you must ensure your article title and following content is grammatically correct and without spelling mistakes. Like most of us, Google also likes accurate, well-written copy.
It’s clear that there’s a lot of information to take in, so take your time. Any questions, ask the Kanuka team.